20th November, 2015

E-commerce focus group brings suppliers and customers closer together

On Wednesday 18 November we held our latest e-commerce Customer Focus Group, which was kindly hosted by our partners Powa Technologies at their stunning offices in Bishopsgate, London.

It was a great day, with a full and exciting agenda and a great turnout from our customers, including Jigsaw, Cath Kidston, Coast, Farrow and Ball, Great Little Trading Company, Jigsaw 24, Mint Velvet, Snow and Rock, WH Smith and Topgrade Sportswear.


The event kicked off with our own e-commerce director, Joanna Kelly, who set out the objectives and agenda for the day, and also spoke about what’s been happening within BT Expedite’s e-commerce department over the last 12 months, and the feedback we received at the last focus group in April.


She talked about the change in strategy, how this has been accomplished and what the end results have been so far. These included: A move to new product technology and infrastructure, new and improved processes, and a number of new key personnel appointments and changes including:


  • a new e-commerce product manager
  • a new e-commerce development manager
  • separation of account and project management
  • additional developers
  • a new sales lead
  • a support team restructure


All these have contributed to the overall improvement in feedback based on the gaps highlighted in April.  We have identified key technology partners based on our customers’ priorities , and are either in process of integrating them for 2016 (such as PowaTag), or have already delivered the integration.  For example, MetaPack Options was integrated for, which is really exciting for us as we are the first of MetaPack’s partners to develop MetaPack Options as standard offering!


Jo also shared how BT Expedite is preparing for peak traffic levels over the ‘cyber weekend’ and Christmas period, and I gave an update regarding the recent FCP6 launch, our resulting learning curve, and a product roadmap update.


Mark Denton, our head of retail propositions, updated everyone on what’s been going on within the wider business of BT Expedite, where we support our retail clients with a range of services and solutions, including POS, CRM, clienteling, merchandising, supply chain and wi-fi -and everything else a retailer could possibly need!  One of the many exciting developments was for the recent Primark launch in Madrid where the retailer has essentially acquired an entire shopping centre and transformed it into a single Primark store, and BT Expedite is proud to provide over 100 POS terminals.


Dean Taylor, our head of creative shared with us the changing face of UI, along with how we can use this in the real world and incorporate it into our responsive design considerations.  His key message was that good UI design should be intuitive as well as beautiful, so whatever the interface, from a tap to a car dashboard to a website, you shouldn’t need to think to use it.  You should be able to just use it.


In the second half of the event, we heard from a mix of third-party providers about a variety of industry topics.  Gravity Road highlighted the importance of being clever with content, demonstrating some of its video campaigns and explaining how and why they were so successful for their clients.  Marketing Lounge spoke about increasing engagement on social media and the five key trends it is seeing emerge in the market:


  1. consumers are operating in an uncertain environment
  2. they don’t want to be ‘sold’ to
  3. they want to decide what is right for them and not be told
  4. they want a personalised experience
  5. and they wanted it all now.


Next we heard from Devatics about their innovative store cluster project with Phase Eight, which has allowed Phase Eight to fulfil web orders from store stock and drastically reduce stock fragmentation and increase revenue.  The project has been such a success that Devatics are now making it available as a product – a real success story!


ATTRAQT presented the importance of merchandising and explained how bricks and mortar retailers use physical displays to promote the stock range that they wish to push – typically this is new stock and bestsellers.  This process is really hard to replicate online, and this is normally managed by the e-commerce team using lots and lots of complicated spreadsheets! ATTRAQTS Visual Merchandising tool elegantly solves this problem by giving the e-commerce merchandising team control over how products are being merchandised using a system of clever tools and triggers.


The highlight of the day was the closing address from our hosts about PowaTag.


PowaTag allows you to ‘Shop Beautiful’ – enabling the consumer to buy quickly and easily via an app using a variety of triggers – including scanning a PowaTag on a billboard, scanning an advertisement in a magazine, pressing a button on a website or email using mobile device, or listening to an advert on TV or the radio.  Powa demonstrated its capabilities using a series of personalised mock-ups for the audience, including an example of using a PowaTag on the swing tag of a piece of Coast apparel, enabling the user to purchase an item in store to be delivered to their home, and the inclusion of a PowaTag on Farrow and Ball sample paints, enabling the consumer to order the actual colour they need without having to make a trip back to store.  Super clever stuff!


We finished up by enjoying some drinks and social time – a perfect end to a fabulous day.  I’m really looking forward to the next one!


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